How Crowdfunding is Connecting Classical Musicians with Cash

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It used to be that if musicians wanted to record an album or put on a concert, they had to go see people with money — foundations or angel investors.

Increasingly they just go online. With crowdfunding web sites like Kickstarter or Artspire you post your project, usually add a promotional video, and if all goes well, the Internet world chips in to get you the money you need. Recently, a campaign by the punk-cabaret singer Amanda Palmer raked in a staggering $1.2 million, a record for Kickstarter.

Classical musicians have been slower to embrace crowdfunding, but that may soon change as artists from Kronos Quartet and Brooklyn Rider to pianist Vassily Primakov and Tenet Vocal Ensemble show some success in this arena. 

Still, for every triumph, there’s another project that fails to meet funding goals; indeed, Kickstarter reports that 56 percent of them miss their targets. Joining us to discuss this trend are three guests: Anastasia Tsioulcas, a music reporter and producer at NPR Music; Michael Royce, executive director of New York Foundation for the Arts, which recently started the crowdfunding site Artspire; and Tracy Silverman, the Nashville-based electric violinist who used Kickstarter to raise money for an upcoming recording project.

Weigh in: Have you given or received donations through crowdfunding sites? What did you like or dislike about the process?